Active Mindfulness & Meditation

Four Scents Team

Are Mindfulness & Meditation Practices Only Passive?


Mindfulness and meditation practices can seem unappealing if we don’t like the idea of being passive. The good news is that there are practices that are everyday activities, and yet, they can become a form of mindfulness. Here are a few examples:
     Woman sat on bench in park reading


It can be hard to switch off sometimes, and getting into a good book gives us the opportunity to slowing down and get engaged in the text in the present moment. It shuts out busyness around and within without us having to try hard! Reading presents a different form of concentration, unlocking characteristics and states of mind that lend themselves to mindfulness. Using the imagination enlivens the brain, as you are producing your own images, feelings and sounds. As well as the physical act of reading, there is the cognitive reaction, such as awareness of the font used, the weight of the book and the texture of the paper. That said, fiction is the best choice – something that isn’t heavy but interesting and engaging. Taking time to immerse yourself and follow the plot as you would enjoy a journey is the most beneficial.
     Open journal with blocks of watercolour colour observations       

Keeping a Nature Diary

This is a creative way to take notice of surroundings; to document what catches your eye or inspires awe in whatever way you wish. This could be through drawing, writing, scrapbooking or whatever feels most natural to you. There are no rules here and no need to be a perfect keepsake, but an active method of being in the here and now. Notice what speaks to you the most – it could be the simple beauty of a dew drop or the majestic night sky. Or discovering attractive repeating patterns in nature, known as “fractals”. Keeping track of subtle changes may be something that inspires you. Whatever this looks like, the idea is to notice the beauty that is around you. It develops a sense of gratitude, strengthens our relationship with nature and develops positive emotions. This activity may generate new pathways in the brain that get us out of feeling stuck, towards more optimistic action.


Hand doodling repetitive pattern



Taking many of us back to school days, doodling can literally feel like a lost art. Yet, it can not only be relaxing, but a powerful form of meditation. Aimlessly sketching rhythmic and repetitive patterns activates the relaxation response. Doodling synchronises the hand and eye, allowing co-ordination of the body and mind. Carol Edmonston, author of The Healing Power of Doodling: Mindfulness Therapy to Deal with Stress, Fear & Life Challenges, describes this as “open-eye meditation”. An invitation to focus on the present, this practice is also not about achieving perfection, but rather a spontaneous action. It’s OK to let go of controlling the outcome, allowing you to potentially discover something you wouldn’t have imagined otherwise. Releasing judgement and attuning to what you’re feeling and sensing while doodling helps to gain the maximum benefits. It also counter-intuitively works well when used as a background activity, such as when you are kept on hold.
       Woman taking photo of spring blossom    


Much like the nature diary, mindful photography aims to take the time needed to notice what appeals to you. Allowing you to be present in the moment, this isn’t about technique or getting the right shot, but making the effort to see the little details in front of you. Being slow and purposeful shifts your focus away from racing thoughts and distractions onto what you want to capture. Nature photography in particular is a great excuse to get outdoors and to gain a true sense of connection with your environment. It could be a familiar scene that changes with the seasons, and photography is a wonderful way to document the subtle shifts that you notice. It can also be an opportunity to take photos that represent emotions, thoughts or feelings you are experiencing in the moment. When words are too hard to find, this can be a beautiful and meaningful way of summarising these, as well as developing a better sense of self-awareness.
Grounded by Ruth Allen







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